Keep Dreaming Big

By Jackie Cushman

May 3, 2012 5 min read

The biggest loss due to the suspension of Newt Gingrich's (former speaker of the House and my dad) presidential campaign this week is the loss of big ideas being tossed into the public arena by him in front of a national press corps. Known as a visionary and a big thinker, he constantly and consistently was able to broaden the discussion and put in a larger context the answers to the debate questions during the presidential debates.

He is also known for daring to bring BIG ideas into the public discourse. Many in the modern press corps, instead of contemplating and discussing the merits of big ideas (let's take space for an example), mocked him for dreaming big.

Indeed, Mike Sacks of The Huffington Post wrote that Gingrich's idea was a "much ridiculed pitch for a space colony."

It leads to the question: Do big dreams matter? And if so, should our politicians dream big?

Dreams matter; big dreams matter even more. The bigger the dream, the more captivating, the more attractive, the more seductive to the pursuer. A small dream is not a dream, but instead is a task. Something that you know that you can do — but with a deadline.

Instead, a big dream, a really big dream, is something that you can't quite imagine happening, but you believe if you work hard enough, and get the right breaks at the right time (divine scheduling and-or intervention), then the big dream just could possibly become real.

Big Dreams inspire action — and change the future.

Our country is built out of big dreams. The desire for religious freedom drove our forefathers from Europe to the New World. The dream of opportunity and freedom provided the impetus to many immigrants in the early 20th century.

Big dreams lead to big accomplishments. American accomplishments that fall in this month of May that were only once only dreamed about include the following:

May 10, 1869 — The transcontinental railroad was completed.

May 4, 1904 — The Panama Canal was started. It would take 10 years to complete.

May 20, 1929 — Charles Lindbergh flew the first transatlantic flight.

May 1, 1931 — The Empire State Building was opened.

May 27, 1937 — The Golden Gate Bridge was completed.

May 5, 1961 — Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space on Freedom 7.

Should we continue to dream big, to think big — say in regards to space exploration?

What are the thoughts of American astronauts, the people who know, regarding the topic of space exploration?

On Sept. 22, 2001, Neil Armstrong, commander of Apollo 11 and the first man to walk on the moon, and Eugene A. Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, and the last man to walk on the moon, testified to Congress on the state of the United States space program.

It was not favorable about where we stand today.

"America cannot maintain a leadership position," said Armstrong, "without human access to space." He insisted that America "must find ways of restoring hope and confidence to a confused and disconsolate workforce."

"Most importantly, public policy must be guided by the recognition that we live in a technology-driven world where progress is rapid and unstoppable. Our choices are to lead," said Armstrong, "to try to keep up or to get out of the way. A lead, however earnestly and expensively won, once lost, is nearly impossible to regain."

Armstrong's testimony was echoed by Cernan: "We are seeing the book closed on five decades of accomplishments as the world's leading spacefaring nation. We need an administration that believes in and understands the importance of America's commitment to regaining its pre-emminence in space.

"Now is the time to be bold, innovative and wise in how we invest in the future of America," Cernan asserted. "Now is the time to re-establish our nation's commitment to excellence. It is not about space — it's about the country."

Big dreams are important, both for leaders and for our country. My guess is that Gingrich will continue to talk about big dreams, which we so desperately need.

It's about inspiring the American people — and changing the future of our country.

To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit

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